Meg Whitman leads California governor's race: poll

LOS ANGELES Mon Apr 5, 2010 4:44pm EDT

California Republican Gubernatorial candidate and former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman speaks before the opening of her campaign's Orange County headquarters in Costa Mesa, California February 22, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

California Republican Gubernatorial candidate and former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman speaks before the opening of her campaign's Orange County headquarters in Costa Mesa, California February 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Related Topics

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Billionaire Republican Meg Whitman has built a slight lead in the California governor's race after contributing a record-breaking $39 million to her own campaign, a Los Angeles Times/USC poll showed on Monday.

The former CEO of online auction house eBay Inc., making her first bid for elected office, has 44 percent of the vote to Democratic candidate and former governor Jerry Brown's 41 percent, according to the poll for the November election.

The winner will succeed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election.

In what is expected to be the most expensive nonpresidential election in U.S. history, Whitman has spent millions on television ads ahead of the June primary and holds a 40-percentage point lead over Republican Steve Poizner.

"The story is the money. The amount of money and the level of advertising Whitman has run to date is not only unprecedented ... it has had a very clear marked effect on campaign," said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

"Among people who have seen her ads, Whitman is beating (Brown) handily, but she's losing to those who have not seen them," Schnur said.

Whitman's $39 million contribution is a record in California for candidates donating to their own campaigns.

More than seven months ahead of the general election, she has spent $46 million, a record for a candidate in a California statewide election and more than Schwarzenegger spent in his entire 2006 campaign.

In the U.S. Senate race, California Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer has a comfortable lead over a "generic Republican", with 48 percent of the vote to 34 percent, despite a drop in popularity as she seeks a fourth term.

But the pollsters said that voter anger could make the race one of Boxer's toughest reelection campaigns.

"The most striking thing to me (about the poll results) is how bleak the view of the economy is and how bleak the view of state political leaders and institutions is, and that clearly is driving everything," said Stan Greenberg, CEO of Democratic Polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.

"You get very little expectation of change in the coming year which is not consistent with what you see nationally," Greenberg said. "Where there is some optimism (nationally), that optimism is not there in California."

Former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina trails former U.S. Representative Tom Campbell in the race to secure the Republican nomination to challenge Boxer, with 25 percent to his 29 percent, the poll showed.

The poll surveyed 1,515 registered voters between March 23-30 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (3)
fstwrtr wrote:
It is insulting to Americans that that kind of money is needed to hold public office. the average Joe has no chance, thus the continuation of out of touch politicians

Apr 06, 2010 10:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
hadas wrote:
Politicians are out-of-touch for two reasons: They run for office for power and influence – not to represent constituents or champion major policies or concerns (regardless of what they say to the public).

This drive for power and influence naturally leads to corruption, greed and misguided representation.

Until we enact legislation which corrects campaign finance, overturns the ridiculous law blessed by the Supreme Court allowing corporate “free speech”, and come up with a more reasonable way of to allow the “common man” to run for office, this type of political campaigning will continue.

The rich are in it to make sure they and their friends remain rich.

It’s too bad that most people believe what they hear during campaigns – the constant rumble of ambiguous dribble.

Apr 06, 2010 11:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
BillSaidIt wrote:

People listen very very closely Do not vote for Boxer Do not vote for Boxer Do not vote for Boxer

Box her up and send her home. If Obama suddenly was to stop Barbara Boxer would have to have her head removed from Obama’s rectal orfice. She is doing nothing for California. Fienstine is the next one to leave.

We need Business people in office. not dictators and we know better than you do lawyers

Meg isn’t in it for the money or she would’t be spending it. JERRY (EDMUND JR)FLUSH IT DOWN BROWN thinks it’s owed to him cause he screwed us up so bad last time. He’s just another son of a bush and that’s not a problem???

Apr 06, 2010 7:07pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.